Oxford is piloting Britain’s first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ), a trial that it will use to understand how a larger such zone would work. The launch was welcomed by ecommerce delivery company DPD, whose driver Mohammed Bilal Khan joined the launch with his zero-emission electric van (pictured).
The initial ZEZ pilot covers a limited area within the city and will allow Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council to gain useful insights before introducing a larger ZEZ covering most of Oxford city centre next year (2023), subject to further public consultation.
The pilot will work in a similar way to the London Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone. Signs will be installed around the perimeter of the zone and on routes leading to it to notify drivers of the ZEZ pilot. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras will be used to enforce the zone.
The zone will operate from 7am to 7pm, all year around. All petrol and diesel vehicles, including hybrids, will incur a daily charge – from £2 to £10 per day depending on the emission levels of the vehicle – unless they are eligible for a discount or exemption. However, zero emission vehicles, such as electric cars and vans, can enter the pilot area free of charge.
Councillor Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for green transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council, says: “The start of the zero emission zone pilot is a landmark event for the city of Oxford and our journey to tackle toxic air pollution and reduce our carbon emissions. For five years the City Council and I have been engaging with businesses and citizens to develop the zero emission zone, and I want to thank everyone for sharing their passion for cleaner air and knowledge about how to pragmatically achieve it. We will be using the learnings from this pilot to inform the expansion of the zone to the wider city centre in 2023.”
Tim Jones, director of marketing, communications and sustainability at DPD UK, says: “We welcome Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone and have been preparing for it for over a year. In July 2021 we opened our new, state-of-the-art depot at Bicester, which is a ‘net zero carbon in construction’ building and announced that Oxford was the first of 25 UK towns and cities that DPD would deliver to with only electric vehicles.
“To achieve that in Oxford, we have a fleet of 40 electric vehicles working across the city, which have been delivering over 15,000 parcels ‘clean and green’ every week, since July. The feedback from drivers and customers has been fantastic and we feel that we have really proved that these vehicles can work, day in, day out in the city.
“We fully understand that there will be challenges for businesses and individuals, we have been through the whole process lots of times and in lots of different locations and it hasn’t always been easy. But we believe transitioning to greener, more sustainable vehicles is the right way forward, both environmentally, and commercially and we are backing the Oxford Zero Emission Zone to bring long term benefits to the city, it’s residents and the wider environment.”